There is No Magic in the Plane
A common, unspoken mindset among would-be missionaries is “When I get to ____ (insert name of your far-off destination), I will begin to be a great missionary.” A similar way of thinking is “When I step off the plane onto the soil of _____ (insert your dream place of ministry), I will be a new person. I will be the person God has called me to be.”
There is a big problem with this logic, though, because there is no magic in the plane. None. Long plane rides do not make us more spiritual. In fact, they often tire us and influence us to be less spiritual. It’s amazing how aggressive some people can be when exiting the plane after a long transnational flight.
Neither plane rides nor crossing oceans are effective spiritual disciplines for transforming us into sold-out disciples or apostolic messengers. Shockingly enough, we are pretty much the same people in remote corners of the world as we are in our hometown. Unfortunately, it is often more difficult to keep a great attitude and spiritual mindset in a foreign land when the culture shock of a new language and culture confront us. In other words, we often act less spiritual when we land than when we started out! Living out of our comfort zones strips us of masks and lays bare our true selves. Nope, there is no magic in the plane.
What we do today matters if for no other reason than it gives us a better chance to be ready for tomorrow. The lessons we gain while serving Jesus in America impact our ability to serve well while in a different culture. The spiritual habits we form in our home largely follow us wherever we serve. Let’s start living nowlike we want to live someday!
As we pursue Jesus fully in our own culture, we will make mistakes. We will also have the opportunity to learn from those mistakes in an environment that is often safer than overseas. Just as many business leaders encourage young leaders to make mistakes early, God desires young disciples to risk for Him. When toddlers attempt to walk, good parents do not scold them when they fall. Neither does God begrudge His children making honest mistakes as they step out in faith.
There is an old saying that good intentions don’t move mountains—bulldozers do.If we want to move mountains and disciple nations, our good intentions must turn into actions. We must move from intending to live a certain way to starting the process. We must start the process now, not when we get off an airplane in a new culture.
Don’t believe in magic airplanes. They simply do not exist. Do believe in the faithfulness of a God who empowers and transforms ordinary people who are willing to obey Him right where they are. In the refinery of local obedience, God molds His servants for effective use and then enables them to make disciples among the nations.
Over the short term, we tend to regret our actions. But over the long haul, we tend to regret inactions. They did a study and found that over the course of an average week, action regrets outnumber inaction regrets 53% to 47%. But when people look at their lives as a whole, inaction regrets outnumber action regrets 84% to 16%.
In other words, most of us regret sins of commission in the short-term. But it’s the sins of omission that will haunt us at the end of our lives.
John Wooden: “When I was teaching basketball, I urged my players to try their hardest to improve on that very day, to make that practice a masterpiece. Too often we get distracted by what is outside our control. You can’t do anything about yesterday. The door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away. You can do nothing about tomorrow. It is yet to come. However, tomorrow is in large part determined by what you do today. So make today a masterpiece . . . This rule is even more important in life than in basketball. You have to apply yourself each day to become a little better. By applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lotbetter. Only then will you be able to approach being the best you can be. Today Matters, John Maxwell, p. 22
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” This isn’t rocket science.
Acts 1:8 says, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth.” Notice the order of the geographical locations mentioned in Jesus’ promise. The order is not “uttermost parts of the earth, Samaria, Judea, Jerusalem.” Instead, Jesus first promises us power right where we are. The disciples were in Jerusalem when Jesus gave them power to be witnesses. They were to start sharing Christ in their current location, Jerusalem. Earlier, Jesus hadalso encouraged his disciples to minister right where they were at the time (see Matthew 10:5-14, Mark 6:7-13, Luke 9:1-6 and Luke 10:1-12).
We must start right where we are. Yes, the unreached, who often live in the uttermost parts of the world, need a chance to hear the gospel. Yes, we must obey God’s commission to disciple allnations, not just the ones close to us. But we must not wait for a plane ride to begin obeying Jesus. We must begin now.
We must be faithful in the simpler task of near cultural evangelism before we attempt to share the gospel with people who speak a different language from ours. The early disciples obeyed this instruction. They were not from Jerusalem, but they did speak the same language (with an accent)of many in Jerusalem and God gave great fruit for their obedience to Jesus’ command.
Managing the Non-Profit Organization, Peter Drucker, p. 59